143,049 members

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation


Matt Hancock’s week: my big speech


Blog headlines

  • Virtual education sessions on spinal cord injury from Spinal Injuries Association
    2 July 2020

    This week Karen Mikalsen from the Spinal Injuries Association shares some information on their work and events for healthcare professionals.

  • Guest blog:Karen Chumley
    25 June 2020

    Thank you to Karen Chumley for a second blog –this time on the local use of an Electronic Palliative Care Coordination system during the Covid-19 pandemic. Karen is the Clinical Director and Deputy CEO at St Helena.

  • Link of the week
    19 June 2020

    This week's link of the week is article by Yasmin Khanagha published in Nursing Times – Why we need to open the conversation about racism.

  • Guest blog: Dr Karen Chumbley
    12 June 2020

    This week we have a guest blog submitted by Dr Karen Chumbley, clinical director and deputy chief executive at St Helena (https://www.sthelena.org.uk/)

  • Social care to become lifestyle brand
    16 April 2020

    Social care is to get a new brand identity as the government seeks to reverse the perception that it is the poor relation of the NHS.

  • Blithering Covid-19 bulletin plays vital role
    2 April 2020

    To fill a gap in the market for timely and relevant Covid-19 information, Martin Plackard, director of global crisis communications at NHS Blithering introduces his latest initiative to reach out to stakeholders during the outbreak.

  • Social distancing the Longstay way
    27 March 2020

    We asked Sir Trevor Longstay, chief executive of the NHS Blithering University Hospitals Foundation Trust and commander-in-chief of the Blithering Covid-19 Taskforce to give us some practical tips on social distancing. Here he shares some of the lessons learned over four decades of leadership – not all of them relevant or epidemiologically sound

  • Nothing left to shift: fears grow over NHS paradigm supply
    12 March 2020

    The government has issued a stark warning that stocks of paradigms and other basic supplies could soon run out if NHS managers continue panic-buying.

  • Matt Hancock’s diary – a week of levelling up
    27 February 2020

    Taking personal charge of global pandemics is one of the perks of this job. I’m referring to coronavirus, of course, and I’m booked to appear on Sky News to talk about it.

  • Exceeding your expectations: the Blithering staff survey
    20 February 2020

    Staff at NHS Blithering feel listened to “at least once a year” and report that their expectations of taking part in surveys have been “met” or “exceeded” in the past 12 months.

  • Martin Plackard’s week: Tuesday
    7 February 2020

    The second in our series of privileged insights to the working life of Martin Plackard, the NHS’s most gifted communicator

  • Martin Plackard’s week: Monday
    30 January 2020

    First in an occasional series of glimpses into a typical week in the life of Martin Plackard, the NHS's most influential strategic communicator

  • A quick guide to quick guides
    24 January 2020

    Few of us have time for long documents that take ages to read or a lot of expertise to put together. That’s where quick guides come in.

  • Towards people and impact
    17 January 2020

    This week the Royal Pharmaceutical Society advertised for a head of engagement and belonging. Such titles can be controversial – but not for Martin Plackard, whose CV features a number of leadership roles in the fields of impact, euphemism management and talent delivery.

  • National log-in reset will change everything
    9 January 2020

    This week the Department of Health and Social Care announced a £40m investment to make it easier to log-in to NHS computers. It’s a laudable aim, akin to fitting a keyless entry system to a Ford Anglia to make it go faster.

  • Martin Plackard’s top tips for making a difference in 2020
    3 January 2020

    NHS Blithering’s Martin Plackard MBE was recognised in the new year honours list for services to strategic communications and meaningful engagement. Here he gives his top tips for others who hope to make a very real difference to people, communities and their own career prospects in 2020.

  • My amazing Twitter year – by Matt Hancock
    20 December 2019

    It's been a fantastic year on social media for the secretary of state for health and the other thing. Here it is in very nearly his own words

  • Sustainability and transformation parties: mandatory guidance
    5 December 2019

    As Christmas fast approaches, system leaders are getting ready for so-called sustainability and transformation parties, the highlight of the year for those who enjoy kinky integration with strangers.

  • All the latest health policy news from the general **** campaign
    29 November 2019

    Because purdah is still in force, this week’s **** has been heavily redacted. Here are the main parties’ plans for government as set out in their manifestos. A full unexpurgated version can be obtained from **** Party HQ.

  • New outfit more splendidly integrated than ever
    21 November 2019

    The emperor has announced plans for yet another new outfit, amid claims that this one will be even more splendid than the last.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Matt Hancock’s week: my big speech

My first big speech is a triumph, even if I say so myself. My head of staff Lucinda certainly thought so. I could see she was genuinely moved. Laughing one minute, crying the next. I have that effect on people.

When JH started he made a big gaffe about NHS staff coasting, which didn’t exactly endear him to the rank and file, so I take a different tack. I’m heartbroken, I say, nobody understands you as I do, you’re all beautiful and I truly love you.

The editor of the HSJ tweeted that I was laying it on a bit thick, but he’s clearly a socialist so he doesn’t count. If authenticity is what people want, that’s what I’m going to give them.

Obviously I also talked a lot about IT, which is one of my special areas of expertise. I can’t believe no one in the NHS has thought of it before.

I understand why people are wary of career politicians who have never had proper jobs. But that’s not me. I’ve got plenty of real world experience thanks to my time in the family software business. I practically ran the sales department during the school holidays, for goodness' sake!  

Going in to bat

So when I go in to bat for the NHS I make it clear that tech is one of my top priorities. In my speech I make no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of GPatHand. Lucinda looks doubtful when I suggest it, but the Conservatives are the party of progress, enterprise and innovation. And Ali is a great bloke, despite the funny voice and the slightly unfinished appearance.

GPatHand’s customers are younger and healthier than those who use typical GP services, which for my money is proof that it works. Lucinda says other GPs hate it because they’re stuck with all the old, sick people.

This is exactly why we need innovation. When all GP services are like GPatHand, there will be no old or sick people, I explain. For intelligent folk GPs are sometimes a bit slow on the uptake.  

Stopping the rot

My other big theme is prevention. The way I see it, if fewer people got ill the NHS would cost a lot less. Do the sums and you’ll see that I’m right. Most illness is self-inflicted. People make bad lifestyle choices, such as picking up a tin of Spam at a foodbank instead of going to a decent restaurant. It’s just lazy.

I want to see more people taking responsibility for their own health. Closing services that pander to unhealthy people would be a good start. But one thing at a time. As Lucinda says, I need to win people over to my way of thinking before I try anything too radical.

Jeremy's legacy

JH is a great guy. He left me a good luck card, his NHS lapel badge (“I won’t be needing it anymore”) and some notes summarising everything he learnt about the job in six years. For instance, doctors and nurses respect a tough negotiator and respond well to being told what to do, particularly when it comes to pay talks. Great advice. I’ll bear it in mind.

Another top JH tip is that high quality services cost less than low quality ones. He didn’t explain how, but apparently it works in banking and the airline industry. Lucinda says it’s a good way to answer questions about the effect of funding cuts on patient safety – another thing JH cared passionately about.

JH finished by saying how sorry he was to be leaving just as all his hard work was about to pay off – but he didn’t seem bitter about me taking all the credit.

“I’m sure that after you’ve been in the job a few months, they’ll think as highly of you as they did of me,” he wrote.

What a lovely, modest guy.

Diary editor: Julian Patterson


Anonymous says:
Jul 27, 2018 08:48 AM

Don't you think if people could afford to go to a "decent restaurant" they would choose that over "picking up a tin of Spam at a foodbank". Some people don't have a choice currently due to their financial situation which may have an impact on their health.

You've definitely laid in on too thick - telling people that no one understands you like I do and truly loving them?! Really? Politicians just say whatever they think their audience wants to hear. They sugar-coat the truth instead of actually standing up and voicing the truth. The NHS is on its knees! We don't need all that rubbish about loving us. We need actions, we need money, we need the NHS to be saved before we end up without our healthcare system. Technology is a brilliant way forward but it is a massive change in the way any healthcare organisation works. This will take time, investment and encouragement throughout the whole process of change. No one liked JH so you've got a lot to prove after the mess he's caused. Stop with the crap, stop pretending to be something you're not and start saving the NHS for the majority of us that use it.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Jul 27, 2018 09:39 AM

Agreed. We offered to remove these comments, but Mr Hancock's people wouldn't hear of it. Something about the authentic voice of the minister...

Julian Le Saux
Julian Le Saux says:
Jul 28, 2018 06:52 PM

The only Health Secretary worse than the one you've got now is the one you're going to get next. I've been in the NHS 28 years now, and I've never known this rule to fail.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Jul 30, 2018 11:59 AM

Very true